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Erection Control, TDV's unique tool solution for bridge design and construction

Dorian Janjic Heinz Bokan

Managing Director Manager Project Centre
Graz, Austria Graz, Austria
office@tdv.at office@tdv.at

Dorian Janjic, born 1960, civil Heinz Bokan, born 1947 civil
engineering degree from the engineering degree from Faculty
Faculty of Civil Engineering, of Civil Engineering, Graz.
Sarajevo. 15 years of experience Over 30 years of experience in
in technical research, software structural analysis in a wide
development. range of applications

Up to now, the erection control procedure of bridges exhibiting non-linear behaviour as well as
being built in stages, has presented almost insoluble problems.
The missing structural engineering tool was the one, which gives the building contractor and
consultant the ability to determine the effects – in terms of both deformation and force – of
constraining the structure into a certain pre-defined position in any stage of construction. This
missing erection control tool has finally been produced.
The erection control facility described in this paper accurately controls the position and the forces in
the segments in non-linear (as well as linear) structures built using the stage-by-stage construction
The paper describes how the program provides various procedures for compensating the errors
found on site and how it is used to apply the correction to subsequent construction stages - on a
smear basis - spreading the error compensation to the pre-camber over all subsequent construction
stages up to the end of the construction.

Keywords: Erection control, geometry control, pre-camber, construction condition, kink correction

1. Introduction
The method described in this paper can be used for both, bridge design analysis and for simulation
of bridge construction sequence on site. The user can perform forward calculation, backward
calculation, erection control or erection monitoring using the same method implemented in the
software solution, also taking into account long-term
effects like creep, shrinkage and steel relaxation.
The major usage is forward simulation of bridge
construction sequence on site, combined with long-
term effects and existing non-linear effects like cable
sagging as shown in Figure 1.
In classical design mode the engineer is usually
choosing the target geometry and a force/stress
distribution in the service state. The new software
solution fits the structure into the target position and
constrains the chosen force/stress distribution by
calculating segment fabrication shapes, stress free
lengths of the cables, section shop-forms and a pre-
camber line and control-lines for each stage.
Fig. 1 Visible sagging of long stay cables In the erection control mode the method simulates
the erection procedure using segment fabrication
highly influence forces in the stay cable
shapes and the stress free cable lengths given by design control lines. As additional result, erection
control gives information if any force action is necessary to assemble the new segments. This
allows determining any necessary equipment and possible
construction problems already in the early design stage.
In the erection-monitoring mode, the new solution allows
continuously monitoring the erection procedure on site.
Any deviation from the predicted control line can be input
in the software package and RM2006 [1] supports the
engineer to fix the future changes in the erection steps by
using the inbuilt optimisation tool.
It is important to note that both, linear and non-linear
analyses are performed on the displaced structure in
erection control mode, taking into account the exact
geometrical lengths and rotations during the construction
Fig. 2 Missing geometric info while stages.
assembling cable 10 and element 3 In the simple example in Figure 2 it is obvious that
geometrical information is missing while assembling new
element 3 and cable 10 to already assembled and loaded
elements 1 and 2.
The missing geometric information is automatically
updated in the erection control mode as shown in Figure 3.
This feature, working with pre-cambering, gives the
possibility of determining the effects, in terms of both,
deformations and forces, constraining the structure into a
pre-defined position at any stage of construction.
In this way the erection geometry and its effects can be
carefully controlled, the effects of possible errors can be
rapidly valuated and modifications for the following
construction phases can be determined in order to
minimize the final static and geometrical effects in the
Fig. 3 Automatic kink correction in To this end, the deformed structure is used as the starting
erection control mode point for the calculations, taking in full account the
position of each element in the space for the large
deflection analysis where appropriate.
Using a novel solution based on displacement constraints [2], one generally applicable method has
been found and implemented within a software package RM2006. This comprehensive solution
simplifies design and erection control of the bridge, efficiently using the same procedure for all
kinds of bridges from small concrete bridges to big stay cable bridges like Sutong Bridge in China,
Stonecutter’s bridge in Hong Kong and extra-large suspension bridges like Messina Bridge in Italy.

2. Erection and geometry control

2.1 The Real Problem
Significant displacements occur during the construction of bridges. They essentially depend on the
erection sequence. In order to obtain the desired end-geometry of the bridge, these displacements
are often compensated for with pre-camber and specific fabrication shapes of girder components.
The deformed structure is the start position for the calculation; therefore, full account of the current
location in space is taken for the large deflection analysis. The whole procedure is repeated
iteratively [3] until the predefined convergence criteria are achieved.
In the implemented method, the stress-free fabrication shape is applied as a loading, acting on the
currently active structure. It will generally produce forces, stresses and deformations.
Since the fabrication shape is applied as a loading, the user can use this device to control and
optimise the forces and displacements in the structure.
Structural assembly with the option to automatically correct the kink at the segment face can also be
used to fully simulate certain construction conditions - each newly-active element is fully
constrained with a face-to-face connection to the currently active structure in its displaced position.
It is also possible to fully control face-to-face connection by changing fabrication shape of new
segments or to use kink correction on the connection face.

Engineers may find, during the bridge

construction, that the current position
of the segment after installation does
not correspond with the expected
position in this stage.
The expected position is taken from the
design calculation and is a postulated
position, assuming that the material
behaviour and length of time taken for
construction up to that time are exactly
in line with the assumptions made.

A precise structural analysis in

construction stages is required to
seriously control the erection geometry.
Fig. 4 Segments waiting for errection In the design process however, the
optimisation of internal forces under
permanent loads is the primary engineering task and the choice of erection situations are steps to
reach it. The analysis is performed with a given starting geometry - usually the structure in its
desired final geometry.
Pre-camber is the geometry of the
bridge required for assembly to reach
the final geometry under given loading
Because the bridge structure is erected
in segments, the pre-camber geometry
is defined as the required coordinate
offsets of the segment begin and end
The stress free segment shape for
installation is the segment fabrication
It is defined relative to the connection
line between the current begin and end
node position of the structural system.
Fig. 5 Typical constraction stage for stayed cable
This applies to the installation of
cables as well as to the erection of
beam segments. From the pre-camber geometry, the coordinates of cable start and end-points are
extracted, whereas the fabrication shape of the cable is the fabrication-length of the cable, also
known as the 'stress-free length'.
2.2 Usage of constraints
In classic static and dynamic FEM analysis, it is assumed that elements are connected to the
common nodes. The common nodes consist of chosen degrees of freedoms (like displacements,
strains, stresses or forces) and neighbour elements share all nodal degrees of freedoms included in
the shared common nodes.
In reality, the structural segments are connected “face to face” and common nodes are only used to
discretise the structural system. This concept works excellent if no changes occur in the “face to
face” connection between the segments, free lengths between cable anchorage points and the
segment geometry.
The difficulties arise immediately if “face to face” connection is manipulated during the
construction or if the segment geometry or the total displacement of the structure is deviating from
the design state.
On the one hand, the unassembled segments are not fitting into displaced geometry of the structure
any more and on the other hand, the engineer has to find and optimise necessary future correction
steps in the erection procedure in order to come close to the designed set of forces and
displacements in time infinity.

{δ }= {δ }+ {δ
I −1
I −1
I −1
− δ Elem }+ {δ Elem
Kink _ Correction
} (1)

Due to such changes in geometry the computer model of the structure based on “common nodes” is
in general not accurate any more and should be updated as shown in equation 1. The first term
represents the last known element displacement, the second term represents the difference between
last known node and element displacement and the last term is user defined kink correction at
element faces.
It is obvious that after inserting displacement constraint at element faces, the standard FEM code
based on common node displacement can not be used any more. Element stiffness properties,
including both linear and non-linear geometric terms, have to be updated [4], and the local
coordinate system of structural elements (defining local forces) is changed.
The displaced geometry of the already assembled structure together with the geometry of the
segments going to be assembled in the next erection step have
to be geometrically updated.
If the stress free geometrical shape of the new assembled
elements does not fit into the geometry of already assembled
structure and the structural system is fully or partially
constrained, this will result in additional forces and stresses.
This is an indication that additional equipment, such as a
hydraulic press, is necessary to assemble those elements on site.
Even the simple calculation with equilibrium at the non-
Fig. 6 Kink correction deformed system, like linear and 2nd order theory analysis, is
between structural segment influenced by displacement constraints. In this case, the non-
linear terms in stiffness matrix are not present, but the analysis
will result in additional element displacements and in forces and
stresses if the deformation is constrained. For composite and steel structures, the method can detect
frozen stresses in composite parts and give information about necessary equipment.

2.3 The principles of the new TDV Erection control module

The main purpose of the TDV erection and geometry control module is to accurately control the
position of the segments in a linear or non-linear bridge structure built with using the stage-by-stage
construction method.
The whole procedure is repeated iteratively until the convergence criteria are achieved. The
Fabrication Shape (stress free element shapes) is input as a load and is applied to the structure by
calculation of the appropriate loading case.
The structural geometry of the segments and cables is defined by structural model and the
individual shape of the segment elements and stress free lengths of the cables.
For the 1st iteration of the calculation, the "Erection Control" procedure uses the pre-deformed
structure, i.e. the deflection line taken from a previous calculation.
This enables both, linear calculation or a real 3rd order theory analysis. Structural assembling with
the option "Automatic Kink Correction" is commonly used in this mode - where each newly
activated element is fully constrained by a face-to-face connection with the currently active
displaced structure.
Using the erection control facility, the stress free fabrication shape is applied as a load to the
structure. In general, the application of the stress free fabrication shape of a segment to the currently
active structure will produce forces, stresses and deformations. The special case where the stress
free shape is in exact conformity with the position of the existing structural parts (i.e. all in
accordance with the pre-camber calculation) will produce no forces stresses and deformations in the
Since the stress free shape is applied as a loading, the user can, using this device, control and
optimise the forces in the structure.
The program provides various procedures for compensating the error and applies the correction to
subsequent construction stages – on a smear basis – spreading the error compensation to the pre-
camber over all the subsequent construction stages up to the end of the construction.
Possible procedure for making error compensation adjustments to unformed segments during the
construction period:
Manipulate the existing structure to the end of the current stage, using any available method to
manipulate the structural model such as applying different E-Modulus or modifying the individual
fabrication shapes such that the end of the structure corresponds (position and orientation-wise)
exactly with the position on site.
Activate and apply a fabrication shape as a loading case to the next element to bring it into the
correct position. (The macro allows the user to spread this adjustment over more than one element)
Apply Erection Control and go to the next step.
Procedure for making error compensation adjustments to already formed segments during the con-
struction period:
The next segment can be installed in a position stepped up or down from the previous segment
(aesthetically and often practically unacceptable).
The contractor can adjust the rotation angle between the old and the new segment. This adjustment
is subject to certain practical and design restrictions depending on whether the segment is pre-cast
or manufactured in steel.
Application of eccentric jacking forces against the two segments on either side of the closure
segment(s) can ensure correct relative alignment of the two cantilever halves.
Modifying the stay cable stresses (where applicable), etc.
The resulting forces from making these modifications can again be easily checked by modifying the
end rotations in the “Stress free fabrication shape” and using the Erection Control facility. The
result of applying the “Individual segment shapes” as a load will be forces, stresses and
deformations in all the elements of the structural model.
2.4 Implementation in the software package RM2006
For both, calculation with equilibrium at the non-deformed system (linear and 2nd order theory
analysis) and calculation with equilibrium at the deformed system (theory of large displacement)
there is the same calculation procedure.
The "real" (stress free) fabrication shape of segments and cables has to be applied to the structure.
Fabrication Shape of cables is pure stress free length of
the cable as shown in Figure 7.
The system length of a cable element is generally
LX0 defined as the straight distance between the start and
end-points before applying any transverse loading.
Changing the stress-free length results in length
differing from the system length of the element.
The initial strain required for producing the elongation
Fig. 7 Stress free length of the cable is characterised by the difference between the specified
constrained in current length between length and the system length is automatically calculated.
anchorage at begin/end
This strain is applied to cable element in the same
manner as a uniform temperature change. There is an
alternative possibility to define the jacking force in the
cables instead of the stress free element length.
For a beam segment, six input values are needed to
define the stress free fabrication shape. Figure 8 shows
the input as equivalent cantilever or simple beam.

The changing of the structural system is done

automatically by the software by activating an option
"Erection Control".
The application of stress free fabrication shapes changes
the stiffness matrix and adds additional loading terms.

The 1st iteration of a recalculation is started with a last

known deflection line updated with a given fabrication
shape and kink correction for the new stage. This
enables a true 3rd order theory analysis. In this mode,
structural assembling can easily be done using the
option "Automatic Kink Correction" by which each
reactivated element is fully constraint to the displaced
Fig. 8 Fabrication shape of structural active structure.
segments input as equivalent
cantilever or simple span beam
3. Application example
The below shown application example for the presented method is the pre-camber and control line
calculation for bridge 4C over Brunswick River.
The bridge is built using the balanced
cantilever method. Segments are cast
in-situ using the VSL modular form-
Pre-camber values are required to
define the casting curve; control lines
are required to validate the as-built
conditions during erection.

Bridge 4, part of the state highway 10,

consists of 3 individual bridges (A, B
Fig. 9 Brunswick bridge VSL(specialist), and C) spanning over Brunswick River.
Abigroup (contractor), SMEC(consultant). The three bridges run parallel to each
other, each a 3-span structure with an
84.5m long main span and 50m side
Each bridge deck is a single box
section with variable deck slab width.
The piers are arranged with an angle of
approximately 60° to the deck. The pier
table is monolithically connected to the
The four cantilevers of a bridge are
built simultaneously. Temporary props
are installed on the side span side next
to the pier to provide additional
stability for out-of-balance construction
stages such as form-traveller launching
or casting of a segment.
Fig. 10 Fabrication shape of structural segments input
as equivalent cantilever or simple span beam

The out-of-balance moment acts

always towards the side span, since the
props cannot take tension.
The load in the temporary props is
monitored and adjusted in order to
avoid loads other than the ones
resulting from out-of-balance moments.

Fig. 11 Intermediate results at stage 212

4. Conclusion
Bridges are in general designed with a specific pre-camber in order to compensate deformations
occurring during the construction. The erection procedure is based on the bridge design and usually
optimised by the contractor in order to minimise time and costs needed for performing the
construction in accordance with available equipment and resources. During the erection of the
bridge, it is necessary to compensate the deviation of the bridge geometry compared to the design
geometry and to optimise future changes in the construction sequence in order to get the final
geometry as well as design forces and stresses in the structure.
The derivation of the exact pre-camber shapes is a time consuming task for the design office,
especially for large structures with multiple construction stages and complicated loading history.
A methodology to cover the needs of the design office and the contractor within one computer
program has been implemented and is presented in this paper. The technical background is outlined.
The computer program automatically follows the bridge erection procedure and predicts the exact
geometric position of structural segments taking into account the construction method, the
construction sequence, the loading history, pre-stressing and post-tensioning, changes in support
conditions and geometry and time-dependent effects.
In bridge design, constraints are based on forces and not on displacements. In the classical design,
pre-cambering and fabrication shape is treated as additional future correction, which will fit the
structure in the target final geometrical position. This fabrication shape is not considered in
structural analysis. Therefore, there are usually different sets of results for the final state analysis
and for the stage-by-stage (construction) analysis.
On the other hand, in bridge construction the main goal is to follow the construction procedure on
site step by step. All segments are defined by their fabrication shapes, and the cables are defined by
stress free lengths for each stressing sequence of the cable.
In order to compensate deviations from design line, produced by different material quality and
different loading on site, it is necessary to add additional corrections, like kinks between segments,
to reach the final design state.
5. References

[1] TDV GmbH. “RM2006 - Technical Description”, Graz, Austria, 2006

[2] JANJIC D, PIRCHER H., FEMBRIDGE - Technical Project Description, 2004, TDV-Austria
[3] JANJIC D., PIRCHER M., PIRCHER H., "Optimisation of Cable Tensioning in Cable-Stayed
Bridges", Journal of Bridge Engineering, ASCE, v8, n3, pp 131-137
[4] JANJIC D., PIRCHER M., PIRCHER H., BRIDGE R.Q. “Towards a Holistic Approach to
Bridge Design”, Proceedings: IABSE-Symposium 2002, Melbourne, pp. 236-237